Investors cheer the Employment Situation Report for February
US stocks advanced on Friday, 09 March 2018 climbing steadily over the course of the session, as investors cheered the Employment Situation Report for February, which showed strong jobs growth while keeping inflation concerns at bay. The Dow closed back above 25,000 and the Nasdaq ended at a record on Friday as Wall Street appeared to shake off worries about tariffs on steel and aluminum to focus on an unexpectedly strong jobs report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 440.53 points, or 1.8%, to end at 25,335.74 for a weekly gain of 3.3%. The S&P 500 index climbed 47.60 points, or 1.7%, to close at 2,786.57, ending the week 3.5% higher. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 132.86 points, or 1.8%, to finish at 7,560.81, up 4.2% for the week.
Financials, industrials and technology sectors all rallied more than 2%.
The U.S. created 313,000 new jobs in February, the biggest gain since mid-2016 and a reflection of the strongest labor market in two decades. Market had predicted a 222,000 increase in nonfarm jobs. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%. Hourly pay rose 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $26.75 an hour. Market had been expecting average hourly earnings to have risen 0.2%, after a 0.3% gain in January, with an overall jobs gain of 220,000. The subdued rise in wage growth for the month helped to ease worries about runaway inflation.
U.S. Treasuries sold off in reaction to the jobs report, pushing yields back towards the multi-year highs they hit a couple of weeks ago; the benchmark 10-yr yield advanced to 2.89% after finishing Thursday at 2.87%. The uptick in yields helped underpin the financial sector (+2.5%), which finished at the top of the sector standings.
News that President Trump accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un helped underpin Wall Street on Friday. The meeting, which will reportedly take place by the end of May, would mark the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a member of the Kim dynasty.
In addition, investors were still chewing on President Trump's tariff announcement on Friday, which went better than many were expecting. The president officially approved tariffs on steel and aluminum imports shortly before Thursday's closing bell, but gave Canada and Mexico an exemption and said that other countries might also receive an exemption depending on their willingness to renegotiate trade deals with the U.S.
Bullion prices ended higher on Friday, 09 March 2018. Gold prices ended higher on Friday, erasing their loss for the week, as monthly data revealed a strong rise in U.S. jobs, but disappointing growth in wages. The U.S. dollar weakened in the wake of the employment data. Gold and the greenback often move inversely as a weaker dollar can raise the appeal for investors using other currencies to buy the precious metal.
April gold rose $2.30, or 0.2%, to settle at $1,324 an ounceup roughly 60 cents, or 0.05%, for the week, leaving its year-to-date gain at roughly 0.8%. May silver tacked on 0.7% to $16.608 an ounce, clinging to a 0.9% weekly gain.
Crude oil prices received a boost on Friday, 09 March 2018 notching a gain for the week, as the possibility of a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader prompted investors to take some geopolitical risk out of the equation for the crude market. News of the first weekly decline in the U.S. oil-rig count in seven weeks also contributed to oil's price rise.
April West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.92, or 3.2%, to settle at $62.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, turning what would've been a weekly loss into a climb of roughly 1.3% from the week-ago settlement. May Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, rose $1.88, or 3%, to end at $65.49 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchangeup 1.7% for the week. Both WTI and Brent on Thursday had marked their lowest settlements since mid-February.
Crude futures had a turbulent week, with prices pulled down in earlier sessions after Energy Information Administration data showed U.S. crude stocks rose 2.4 million barrels and production hit a record high in the week ended 2 March 2018.
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